7 min read
The ink is still drying on our 2016 goals and resolutions and you even brought a habit tracking app into the mix. Horray you! And while you’re setting off to drink less, write more, exercise daily, or build your next big thing, I have some good news and some bad news:
The Good News:
Just by writing your goals down, you’re approximately 432% closer to making your goals happen than if you just thought about them.
The Bad News:
If you don’t have focus, those goals are as good as gone by February 1st.
Sure, there are many paths to accomplishing your goals. Let’s take ConvertKit for example. Our goal is to build the best email marketing platform that makes it easier for bloggers to write about a topic they care about and make a full time living doing that.
There are certainly a number of ways we can get there.
In fact, our daily support tickets have plenty of feature requests we could implement along the way. Drag and drop email templates. Embedded video. A membership site. The list goes on.
So, we could pour our resources and developer’s talents into tiny changes that could have an impact and push us (and you) forward just a tiny bit. OR we could have our team work on something bigger. Something that makes it easier to meet our end goal for you: making a full time living writing about those things you care about.
That’s our one big goal and we have a laser-sharp focus on it. Does that big goal mean the others don’t matter at all? Absolutely not. But our big goal becomes the cornerstone for all of the actions we take along the way.
So how do you find your one big thing to focus on? From the self-described neurotic to the incredibly organized, there are some successful entrepreneurs who seem to have found the answer. Here’s 5 ways you can try for yourself:
The “King of Real Estate”, Gary Keller, took his Texas based Keller Williams Realty to the big stage with an intense amount of focus. In fact, Keller wrote the book on the subject matter: The ONE Thing: The Surprisingly Simple Truth Behind Extraordinary Results.
Based on goals in any area of your life, ask yourself, “What’s the ONE Thing I could do, such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary?” Then time block to make it happen. It doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that.
The amazing thing is when people ask themselves the question, they are almost always accurate. People instinctively know what matters most.
In a post on his own blog, Tim Ferriss refers to himself as “… no superhero. I’m not even a consistent ‘normal.’” But idiosyncrasies aside, Tim has become the leading voice on productivity and finding focus in business (especially business online). Here’s what Tim has to say:
1) Wake up at least 1 hour before you have to be at a computer screen. E-mail is the mind killer.
2) Make a cup of tea (I like pu-erh) and sit down with a pen/pencil and paper.
3) Write down the 3-5 things — and no more — that are making you most anxious or uncomfortable. They’re often things that have been punted from one day’s to-do list to the next, to the next, to the next, and so on. Most important usually = most uncomfortable, with some chance of rejection or conflict.
4) For each item, ask yourself:
– “If this were the only thing I accomplished today, would I be satisfied with my day?”
– “Will moving this forward make all the other to-do’s unimportant or easier to knock off later?”
5) Look only at the items you’ve answered “yes” to for at least one of these questions.
6) Block out at 2-3 hours to focus on ONE of them for today. Let the rest of the urgent but less important stuff slide. It will still be there tomorrow.
7) TO BE CLEAR: Block out at least 2-3 HOURS to focus on ONE of them for today. This is ONE BLOCK OF TIME. Cobbling together 10 minutes here and there to add up to 120 minutes does not work.
8) If you get distracted or start procrastinating, don’t freak out and downward spiral; just gently come back to your ONE to-do.
Congratulations! That’s it.
Tara Gentile’s steps (have you noticed there are steps involved in each lesson?) focus on growth and forward movement. As she says, “The moment you change each goal into an obstacle to overcome, you will accomplish more, feel a greater sense of satisfaction, and make measurable progress towards your greater vision.”
1) Start with what you’re working towards overall. Give it a number (dollars, team members, members, etc…). At Quiet Power Strategy™, we call this your Chief Initiative.
2) Then list the projects you’re currently working on to achieve this overall goal. Make sure each is either quantifiable (again: dollars, pitches, subscribers, etc…) or time-bound (has an “by” date).
3) Next, list growth actions for each project. Consider the specific things that need to be done to accomplish each project. None of these actions should begin with “start,” “continue,” “work on,” or any other word that connotes continuation and not completion. If you can’t finish the action in the time given, break it down further.
4) Finally, start tracking your progress. Each and every week, review your Chief Initiative, projects, and growth actions. Take note what of you’ve completed and what stands of action you’ve met. Mark down your progress on the metrics that are important to your goal (subscribers, dollars, members, etc…). Make a plan for the week that takes into account what worked previously and what new things you want to try to create more momentum.
Jeff Goins, on the other hand, encourages us to slow down to speed up:
1. Make a gratitude list. Write down three things you’re grateful for today (science shows that such lists lead to increased happiness).
2. Stop competing. Instead of comparing yourself to someone you admire (or envy), consciously choose to celebrate their success. Jealousy leads to misery; make the effort to build others up, even when you don’t want to.
3. Resist the urge of distraction. The next time you’re tempted to “check in” on social media, to lose focus on what’s right in front of you, take a deep breath. Remind yourself that this moment won’t last forever and you should make the most of it.
Before you launch out with your noble intentions, stop for a few minutes and consider where you’ve been and where you’re going. Think about your resources, your qualifications, your strengths and weaknesses. Most of all, think about your passions. As you do, here’s a few questions to reflect on:
- Am I closer to my goals right now than I was a year ago? Did I get off track, or distracted? How do I fix that? Far too many people fail not because they aren’t qualified or talented, but simply because they got distracted.
- What’s my greatest passion? What do I think about the most? What do I love doing, or what comes easy for me? What am I doing right now to pursue that passion?
- Do I need to change perspective? For instance, if after two years I’m still out of work, perhaps I need to get out of that rut by getting trained for another job.
- What are my priorities? I’ve discovered that no matter how difficult the circumstances, the people who understand their priorities are the ones who stay on course the best.
Reflect for a day before you rush into the week. You’ll find the rest of the week will be far more fruitful.
Finding focus on your one big thing is clearly a process. And there's several ways to get there based on your end goal. So now I want to know this: